Friday, April 18, 2008

Charlatans Beware

For those interested, and I know it’s not all of you*, darling readers, please take a look at a couple verses I read in Matthew this morning. To me it articulates much better than I could what I was trying to say about the Pope and the hysteria surrounding his arrival.

*For all those tired of my impassioned ranting, take heart - it’s the weekend, it’s stunningly beautiful outside and something wacky is bound to happen for your reading pleasure.

Some excerpts from Matthew 23
Now Jesus turned to address his disciples, along with the crowd that had gathered with them. "The religion scholars and Pharisees are competent teachers in God's Law. You won't go wrong in following their teachings on Moses. But be careful about following them (the Pharisees). They talk a good line, but they don't live it. They don't take it into their hearts and live it out in their behavior. It's all spit-and-polish veneer.

Instead of giving you God's Law as food and drink by which you can banquet on God, they package it in bundles of rules, loading you down like pack animals. Their lives are perpetual fashion shows, embroidered prayer shawls one day and flowery prayers the next.

You're hopeless, you religion scholars! Frauds! Your lives are roadblocks to God's kingdom. You go halfway around the world to make a convert, but once you get him you make him into a replica of yourselves.

You keep meticulous account books, tithing on every nickel and dime you get, but on the meat of God's Law, things like fairness and compassion and commitment—the absolute basics!—you carelessly take it or leave it. Careful bookkeeping is commendable, but the basics are required. Do you have any idea how silly you look, writing a life story that's wrong from start to finish, nitpicking over commas and semicolons?

You burnish the surface of your cups and bowls so they sparkle in the sun, while the insides are maggoty with your greed and gluttony. Scour the insides, and then the gleaming surface will mean something. People look at you and think you're saints, but beneath the skin you're total frauds.

That’s some powerful stuff! If nothing else, I hope these verses and the Pope’s visit will point us all toward living right - full of compassion, fairness, kindness and love. Fake saints and false acts of goodwill are useless!

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